President Toomas Hendrik Ilves met with the family of the abducted security official Eston Kohver, promising his loved-ones that Estonia will do all in its power to free Kohver.
Kohver was abducted from Estonian soil around a year ago, and taken by force to Russia, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for espionage and other charges this Wednesday.
“For me, and for Estonia, Eston Kohver continues to be an officer with the Internal Security Service, a loyal official of the state; one of us, who is currently in a very difficult situation,” Ilves said, meeting Kohver's wife and four children, on Wednesday. Ilves, and many guests at the August 20 Restoration of Independence Day reception wore yellow ribbons in support of Kohver.
Arnold Sinisalu, the head of the Internal Security Service (ISS), said Kohver's family will receive their full support.
Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur said it is very important that Estonia and foreign powers keep pressuring Russia to free Kohver. “One thing is public pressure on Russia, but it is clear that the communication between officials to find a solution must continue.”
“I believe if there is one person who will survive those prisons, it is Eston. And certainly we will do all we can to get him back as soon as possible,” Martin Arpo, deputy director of ISS, said.
Commenting on a possible prisoner swap, Arpo said Russia will hold Kohver until it sees use in having him. “Russia thought it would be useful to hold or act out such a trial. But from now on, we feel keeping Eston locked up will become increasingly less necessary. And we are betting on Russia freeing him at some point,” he said, refusing to speculate on a time frame or on which of Herman Simm and Aleksei Dressen, Russian spies in Estonian prisons, Russia would be interested in.
Click here for more on the timeline of the case.
Editor: J.M. Laats